Sex Education season 4 is rapidly losing supporting cast members, but while the absence of Tanya Reynolds’s Lily Iglehart will not affect the story, Patricia Allison’s Ola Nyman presents a bigger issue. The two have been primary characters on the periphery of the main cast for the Netflix series’ first three seasons, but neither will return for season 4. While this is a shame in both cases, only Ola’s absence will present a major story concern due to her close relation to the main cast, particularly Otis (Asa Butterfield) and Jean Milburn (Gillian Anderson).
Both Ola and Lily are introduced in Sex Education season 1 before eventually becoming a couple. Ola is Jakob’s daughter and eventually moves in with Otis and Jean Milburn when Jean and Jakob take their relationship to the next level. However, despite getting a lot of screen time across all three seasons, both Tayna Reynolds and Patricia Allison announced that Lily and Ola would not return for season 4. They are two of four prominent female actors to leave the cast ahead of Netflix’s next season, alongside Simone Ashley, who plays Olivia Hanan, and Rakhee Thakrar, who plays beloved teacher Emily Sands.
Ola’s absence in Sex Education season 4 presents a major problem for the writers, as her absence will be difficult to explain due to her being Jakob’s daughter. Jakob is closely linked to main character Otis and his mother, Jean, particularly now that Jean is seemingly pregnant with Jakob’s child. With season 4 likely spending a lot of time with Jakob and Jean — and by extension, Otis — Ola’s absence will be difficult to explain. She is more than a background character who only meets Otis Milburn and Maeve Wiley at school, so the writers will need to come up with a good reason why she is not supporting Jakob as he finds out he may be a father. This also extends to her relationship with Adam Groff, which was being built up as being important and now seemingly will hurt Adam’s planned character journey.
Without Ola, Lily’s Story Has Run Its Course
In contrast to Ola, Lily’s absence will be much easier for Sex Education season 4 to explain. While Lily has been well-liked by many viewers for her quirky attitude and relationship with Ola, she is only really connected to the main cast — Otis, Eric, Maeve, Adam, and Jean — by virtue of being Ola’s girlfriend. With Ola gone, it is unclear what Lily’s arc would be, as her goal of learning to accept herself was mostly resolved by the end of season 3.
Despite Ola’s departure presenting more logistical issues ahead of Sex Education season 4, both characters will be missed. Their romance was a highlight of season 3, and they provided an authentic representation of young LGBTQ+ teens coming to understand their sexuality. However, their leaving the series also makes space for new, exciting characters to join Sex Education season 4, provided the writers can find a suitable reason for Ola’s absence.